Tuesday, December 30, 2014

WOW! You'll be SHOCKED at how gullible people are....

   
     That was fast. 
     2014, as I'm sure you know, runs out tomorrow, and ....
     I mean, I hope you know. 
     It would be scary if you didn't know, if you were just learning it now. "What? The year is OVER? But I was just starting to get used to it..." 
     Sorry.
     There are only three things a journalist is supposed to do during the week between Christmas and New Year's: 1) Remember all the celebrities who died in the past 12 months. 2) Review all the news stories during the same period; 3) Talk about parties and bars and resolutions and weight loss. 
     I've done all those things, in years past.
     I'm kinda tired of them.
     Maybe you are too. The frenzy over Robin Williams' suicide was excessive last August. "The Full Diana" as I call such media swoons. Not to take anything away from the man, but I can't see revisiting it again in honor of the calendar clicking. He's still dead. We get it. Ditto for the news, much of which wasn't worth noting once, while it was happening, never mind being reguritated months later. As for parties and bars and weight loss, well, you're on your own. 
     I could give you the State of the Blog report. That's what I did exactly one year ago, on Dec. 30, 2013. The blog has a history! Cool. Last year's summary had a certain tone of weary resolve that I'd be hard pressed to duplicate. What's the line from Bruce Springsteen's "Straight Time?" "Sooner or later it just becomes your life."
     In the last six months of 2013. the blog was averaging 918 hits a day; the high month was 32,000 visits. 
     We're doing much better now, averaging about 1200 hits a day, and our high was 43,000 in October, nosing toward my goal of 50,000 visits a month, which I've abitrarily determined represents Success of Some Kind. An advance of about a third, not to go all numerical on you, but the Internet has made us measure our value in clicks.
     Though candor demands I point out that, based on my spam filter, a certain number of those clicks—5 percent, 10 percent?—must be robot spiders, which search the web for, well, whatever robot spiders are looking for. 
     There's other good news. Some of my posts have done very well. "Welcome to the Steinberg Bakery" posted Feb. 16 got nearly 10,000 hits, which I fancy is due to its being a sharp piece of satire. I sold enough of the blog's poster to break even. The new blog poster is designed and being produced at Hatch Show Print in Nashville, and will be sold here soon. (The old one is going to be taken off sale, so if you want one, order it now or wait to buy it at a premium Leslie Hindman's in 20 years).  
    2014 was the first full calendar year where I wrote this blog, every goddamn day, without fail. Most days are pretty smooth. I've felt a little, umm, spent a few times, but not so much that I'd contemplate quitting the thing, at least not yet. Even if half of the audience is random clicks in China and automatic spambots looking to post their Viagra come-ons, that's still 600 people a day reading. Not mass market, but not bad. Enough to keep plodding forward, and hoping for some miracle.
     The title of this post is a nod at the way the Internet has become crowded with the journalistic equivalent of carnival come-ons, meaningless lists, cheap tricks to get you to click on something, providing very little content. Some recycled racy photos, a half-witted caption of some sort. It must work because there's enough of it. I'm hoping there is an audience for something else, something a bit more human and considered. I might be wrong here. We'll see. 
      The advertising is certainly encouraging. Thanks again to Marc Schulman of Eli's Cheesecake, and Mike Pilkington at Bridgeport Coffee. Thanks as well to past advertisers, Lise Schleicher, at BasketWorks, and the folks at the University of Chicago Press. And welcome to Chicago Mailing Tube, which will be advertising as soon as they get the art to me. 
     And of course thanks to you. It means a lot to me that you take the time to read. That's something. More. That's everything.
   

19 comments:

  1. Thanks for a year of insightful commentary, polished prose and wicked retorts.

    Loved every bit of it!

    John

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  2. How about a "They haven't died yet in 2014 but I wouldn't mind if they did" column? That could have plenty of insightful commentary, polished prose, and wicked retorts, and would be somewhat tasteless as well. A grand slam!

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  3. As I said last year, you keep writing it every goddamn day, and I'll keep reading it every goddamn day. And making this same comment every goddamn year, apparently.

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  4. Maybe if you named the blog ever Godblessed Day, the year 2015 might be better? Just a thought. Happy New Year, Clickbait Mr. Steinberg!

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  5. Love it. I read it every god damn day ( almost) on my android while still curled in bed. I have yet to disagree-and I particularly enjoyed the Steinberg Bakery. Just keep on keepin on.

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  6. I'm a business guy I have to ask. Is the blog profitable? Could it sustain you if G-d forbid a beloved Chicago newspaper were to fold in 2015? I worry so much that newspapers are a thing of the past.

    Marvin

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    1. I would have the coffee aspect of my life completely covered. Other than that, no, I'd be completely fucked. It's an investment in my future.

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    2. Maybe the extra tweets are having the desired effect... My businessy (and busy-body) question is whether those "hit" numbers represent unique visitors per day, or total clicks? Either way, you clearly have a dedicated readership appreciating your fine, witty writing and no-holds-barred take on things. Congrats on another year's worth of interesting posts. Now, if only you'd write about opera more often! ; )

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  7. Well done, Neil. To paraphrase John Lennon, I think you passed the audition.

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  8. I look forward to reading your column every day. It's a reminder that there's content out there which is slower in pace, thoughtful. I'm not one of those people who worry that writing or thoughtfulness or whatever is dying, there will always be good writers and people willing to read them. The audiences may not be huge, but that's kind of the point. Neil, you're already running a successful column, apparently enjoying it, which makes you richer than most people will ever be. Size and monetary success are not indicators of quality, unless your goal is fame and riches. (not that any of us would turn down the chance to see what life was like from a lottery winner's perspective)

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  9. Reading your blog is something I look forward to each day. If something goes awry and I'm not able to read it that day, I go back and catch up. Thanks for the entertainment, insights and laughs, Neil. Please keep them coming. I guess I'd better order one of those posters now.....

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  10. Doug D.

    It sad that we're still able to see many of our favorite writers and reporters on line but they're not getting the financial rewards they deserve. Maybe some techy can come up with a way for us to "pay as we go". Wanna read a post? Drop the cash in the slot. A TV show? Same thing. It might also get rid of much of the junk that's out there on both media.

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    1. Neil could always beg for the financial rewards the way Wikipedia does.

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    2. Nah, as Jon points out, I'm already paid well, just not for this. Frankly, I think it's a lapse on the paper's part -- I would think this type of thing is what ALL the columnists should be doing. But I don't want to penalize them because I happen to like this. It's all working out -- though I'd feel better if the posters would become the cherished collectibles that they were in my perfervid dreams.

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    3. Well, mine is hermetically sealed under glass in pristine condition and will be bequeathed to my favorite daughter as an heirloom for the use and benefit of her impending son.

      John

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  11. So true about people overgushing about famous people they don't know and then putting them on a pedestal.

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  12. No real reason, but for comparison, how many folks read your column in the paper? at the website?

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  13. Honestly, I have no idea. they don't tell me these things. I would imagine between 50 and 100 times more people at least see it in the paper and on-line.

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